An Evening Of Song, A Bottle Of Wine and A Wombat

While on our way to the EAA Airventure in Oshkosh, Gramps and I stopped to visit cousins in Dubuque, Iowa.  It’s a wonderful town on the Mississippi River, bordering Wisconsin and Illinois.  The weather was perfect and one evening we took snacks and a bottle of wine to a music concert at the arboretum.

The evening was cool (in July!), the grass was covered with blankets and lawn chairs and the air was filled with the singing voices of young people from all over Wisconsin.  We sipped our favorite wine from handmade glasses and shared a wonderful occasion with some of our favorite relatives.  The whole time we were surrounded by flowers, trees and bushes of magnificent beauty.  Could we have had a more perfect time?

Oh, and in the midst of this idyllic scene I saw a young woman carrying a small furry animal.  It wasn’t a cat or a dog.  It was . . . well, it was a wombat.  That’s right , a wombat.  A baby wombat in the arboretum in Dubuque, Iowa!

It was all snuggled up in a blanket and seemed as mesmerized by the stunning singing voices as we were.  But really, a wild animal in a crowded group of people just didn’t seem normal to me.  No one else seemed bothered, just me.

At the end of the program, we all showed our immense appreciation, finished off the last of the wine, gathered our belongings and headed home.  What a splendid evening we all had.

I think the wombat had a good time too!

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It’s Not All About The Fireworks

fireworks2July 4th was a special day for Gramps and me. We took the boat out on the lake to watch the fireworks put on by the local city. Sounds like a simple event, doesn’t it? Go see a bunch of big booms and then go home. But the way Gramps and I do it, it takes almost all day and becomes a grand affair.

First there was the beautiful boat ride across the lake to get to the prearranged spot. The sky had clouded over, which dropped the temperature pleasantly. We passed by the dam and saw many

birds and ducks on our way.

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IMG_0003We got to a perfect spot off shore with plenty of time to spare. After anchoring in place, Gramps put his fishing rods in the water. “Can’t catch anything if you don’t have a line in the water,” he always says.

Dozens of boats joined us in the cove. Some were playing music, some people were dancing, some swimming. Lots of children were laughing and beaming in anticipation. What a wonderful community we became.

While we watched a magnificent sunset, we enjoyed our picnic dinner of bratwurst, bean salad and hard boiled eggs. How peaceful! How serene!

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When the sun finally set, we were all ready for the fireworks show. It was brilliant and exciting and very colorful. Oohs and aahs followed each explosion. Applause was heard from all directions. Children and adults alike had a great American moment watching the fireworks.

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As the fireworks finale came to a close, we all lingered on the water. It seemed our new little community wanted to savor the day and evening. No one wanted it to end.

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Finally Gramps and I slowly motored back across the lake by the light of a half moon. Talk about romantic!

We had such a grand day filled with calm, excitement, quiet, big bangs, good food, fellowship and shared moments. And the fireworks were actually only one part of the day.

T-shirt Dresses Galore

What can a person do with a t-shirt? Wear it with jeans, wear it to bed, wear it bowling. Maybe jazz it up with lace or fabric and make it less t-shirtish. Of course, there’s always paint, iron-on transfers and embroidery to change the look of a plain t-shirt. Some people rip off the sleeves, cut holes and shred the bottom edge to make it look unique.

Me? I have found a great new technique to make a t-shirt something really special – add a skirt and make it into a dress. Yes, there is a dress hiding in almost every t-shirt, a unique, individual, one-of-a-kind dress.

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The skirts can be long, short, tiered, ballooned, anyway you want. The trick is simply attaching the skirt to the t-shirt and voila, a dress is born!

Recommended reading: Sew Pretty T-Shirt Dresses by Sweet Seams. This book has more than 25 ideas with patterns for t-shirt dresses of all kinds.

I have been in the sewing room creating dresses galore for two granddaughters, Marie and Kay. I got the t-shirts either on sale or at Goodwill (which means they were very inexpensive). Adding the special skirt to enhance the shirt makes the dress completely personal. And it becomes almost addictive! I can easily make a dress a day.

Here is one week’s work:

IMG_0060    IMG_0061Wouldn’t it also be fun to take a loved and favored t-shirt and make a dress out of it? Wouldn’t that be a wonderful gift for a special child or grandchild?

The Blue Pantry Door

Every pantry has a door, right? Well, some don’t but most do. Some have a solid door, some a hollow door and some a slatted door. My pantry is special. It has a screen door. Yes, a screen door!

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I’ve wanted a wonderful pantry for many years. Finally, I had the inside just right and it was time for a unique door. What is more unique than a screen door?

I looked long and hard for an old screen door, but because the pantry entrance is narrow (28”) I never could find one. I then looked for a new door I could make old looking.

I found the most beautiful little Victorian screen door that fits the opening perfectly. Then I roughed it up a bit with a hammer to make it look used.

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IMG_0818I painted the door crudely with three different colors of paint to simulate years of repainting. Between each layer, I sanded different areas where normal wear would occur, such as around the knob. The last color of paint was blue, which is the color of the kitchen.

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IMG_0827IMG_0828After painting, I covered the entire door with an antiquing glaze to basically make it look old and a bit dirty. I applied the glaze and rubbed it off with a dry rag. The technique worked very well.

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Then the screening had to be applied. Who knew there were different colors of screening? I chose a dark bronze, which looks old (not shiny) and somewhat opaque. I wanted to be able to see through the screen but not have it look shiny and new. One really dark screen color I thought I might like, ended making the door look like it belonged in the Addams family home – it really looked a bit creepy. The one I finally chose, the dark bronze, ended up looking the best.

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The cherry on the cake is the handle. I found an old silver serving spoon and bent it to use as a handle. I attached it with screws and it looks very charming.

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Now my pantry is so cute inside and out. I love it! Lights on or lights off it looks adorable. Every time I walk in the room it makes me happy. No more can be asked of any pantry.